Often when families are considering hiring help at home, they think “this should be simple, we just need someone who can do laundry and cook one meal/day (or…)”. The next thought may be to post a quick ad, or maybe even ask a student to do these tasks in exchange for room and board. But, what if it doesn’t turn out to be so simple?
In our quest to help families through various aspects of eldercare, we make education a priority. You can read a number of articles we have written to explain costs of home care, home health agency regulations and our “home care questions” series. Today we will address some of the unasked questions and considerations you should think about before jumping in to hiring a home caregiver.
When considering the scenario above, ask yourself:
- What protections do we have? If there is one “purchase” you should be most cautious about, it is hiring care for your loved ones. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and this is not an area to take lightly. What if the hired caregiver hurts herself on the job? What if he steals from Mom (or you aren’t sure if this is a result of Mom’s increasing paranoia from her dementia)?
- Am I prepared to be the boss, HR manager and more? In the hiring process, you will need to do your due diligence, whether hiring someone privately or through an agency. The big difference is that if you find an agency you can trust, they can then handle a lot of tasks for you and be accountable for all issues that arise (which by no means negates that you will be closely involved). Some of the tasks involved in managing a home caregiver include: hiring/screening, payroll and taxes, ensuring protections like worker’s compensation insurance and liability coverage, dealing with absences/finding substitute care, training and care planning, monitoring care and safety and troubleshooting problems. People often don’t think about how stressful it can be to deal with the many issues that arise. This is all made 100 times harder to do from a distance.
- What kind of quality do you expect for your aging parent? You may first think the tasks and needs are simple, but do you really want an untrained, unqualified person helping? OR…do you want a person who has been trained in lifting techniques and safety? Someone who has learned tips on helping with hygiene and how to give a “dignified” bath? Someone who has completed training on issues like elder nutrition and dementia care? What about someone who chose a career with elders because they truly enjoy it and who has gained a lot of experience helping other elders/families?
With an agency like EasyLiving, you get a team approach to home care. What does that mean and how does your family benefit?
- Our team works closely with your family, handling all of the issues mentioned above so you can focus on being family. We take responsibility for concerns, and proactively monitor and address them (for example, by having a Client Care and Safety Supervisor, who makes field visits).
- You get all the protections of a licensed home health agency (background screening, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, state regulations/reviews) along with our steps to go above and beyond (extra hiring screening and test requirements, paid comprehensive staff training, quality assurance through an independent agency and our in-house supervisor/coaching sessions). We do things like using a telephone-based clock-in system, so we know within a few minutes if a caregiver does not show up for a shift and have computerized records of all shifts. Our Senior Care Consultant talks with and visits all families considering our services to go over how we can help and offer solutions and input. Our Client Care and Safety Coordinator conducts field visits to coach caregivers on ways to improve care and safety. We offer ongoing, paid caregiver training and do regular coaching/review sessions with each caregiver.
- You aren’t relying on only one person. As good as that person may be, things happen. The caregiver may get sick or need some leave to deal with an ill family member. Your loved one may need more care than one person can handle (or special skills that this person does not have). At EasyLiving, we create a detailed care plan that lets other caregivers step in when needed and we typically have a couple (or more, depending on the number of hours of care) people who meet the client and assist over time so that more than one caregiver knows your Mom or Dad.
- You get a professional team who understands coordinating with all involved parties (family members, care managers, medical and other care providers). We understand our roles (as well as our boundaries) and how we can help the overall care team bring better results to your loved one. Everyone that should be kept in the loop is and we can adjust our care plan as needs change (adding medication management if the doctor feels help is needed now, changing hours to better coordinate with appointments or Medicare Home Health visits, taking suggestions from family and care managers).
We don’t like to sound negative, but we know it’s much worse not to be prepared. When you first have that thought about getting Mom or Dad some help, it might sound simple. But, do yourself a favor and think about all aspects of the situation (and what could change or go wrong). Too often we hear from people who didn’t and regret it.
Contact our senior care consultants today at 727-447-5845 to discuss your eldercare needs and how we can help. Sue can provide a complimentary visit to discuss your situation in person and offer you invaluable advice.